Osteoarthritis is a common problem due to the normal wear and tear of joints over many decades. Unfortunately, many people experience arthritis at significantly younger ages with the effects being more debilitating before reaching old age. There are ways you can reduce your risk for early-onset osteoarthritis and decrease the impact on daily functioning.

Be Mindful Of Extra Weight

No matter your age, being cognizant of extra body weight can have a significant impact on your joints. Engaging in simple activities, such as walking, and making better dietary choices can reduce excess weight or at least prevent weight gain. Many people notice the pounds tend to creep up as they age and the weight can be harder to lose. Additionally, it is often harder to carry around additional weight as you grow older. Starting a weight control program now can prevent minor problems from escalating quickly. As arthritis becomes more limiting, it often translates into more weight gain and sedentary behavior.

Follow Up After Injuries

Playing sports or simple accidents can easily cause damage to joints and their supporting structures, especially the knees. If the problem was fixed and you engaged in physical therapy for rehabilitation, the follow-up should not stop there. You should ask your doctor about long-term management strategies following an injury. Some injuries can change the way you walk or the amount of force on the joint. When the biomechanics of the joint changes, it can easily precipitate the development of arthritis. Your doctor may want to perform annual x-rays to detect early signs of arthritis. Additionally, periodic meetings with a physical therapist may be important to address the way you are walking or to add custom joint supports.

Aggressively Treat Early Arthritis

Once arthritis starts, you and your doctors should aggressively treat the affected joints to minimize the disabling effects. Joint replacements are a last-ditch effort to reduce pain and improve function. Since joint replacements are typically offered to patients who are middle-aged and older, the early onset of disabling osteoarthritis could leave you with few options. Moderate exercise can be important to help rebuild cartilage and reduce pain. In addition to exercise, glucosamine and chondroitin are often used to manage arthritis and avoid frequent use of anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Although there is no consensus on whether these supplements help with arthritis, they are considered safe to use and may be worth a try.

Although most people develop arthritis at some point, its effects do not have to be devastating. Taking a proactive approach can help you tackle arthritis before it becomes disabling. For more information, contact local professionals like Joseph P. Spott, DO.